I am a mere four races into race season and I have already learned more about where I stand, recovery-wise, than I probably care to. It's always easy, right after crossing the finish line, to dissect what went wrong, to focus on the negative. Perhaps that trait is what makes competitive people brush themselves off and try, try again. Within 24 hours, however, I also discover that there is much to celebrate about each and every race performance, knowing there is a way to do better the next time.
So here are my reflections on my race season to date.
Du the Lakes Duathlon. I had no idea what to expect 4-1/2 months after foot surgery, so I signed up for this race to find out. What a disappointment! But then, after I calmed down and looked at my split times, I was able to pinpoint why I was 6 minutes slower than last year at the same race. The bike was the same, essentially, time-wise, perhaps a few seconds different. But each mile of the six total miles run took me one minute more to complete, which adds up to 6 minutes. How humbling to discover that I had lost a full minute-per-mile off my race pace, from 8 minutes to 9. The solution: More speedwork.
Buffalo Half Marathon. I signed up for this race for a few reasons--I love half marathons, I enjoyed the race last year (even though a train stopped a bunch of us at mile 10), and it gave us a chance to visit the grandkids (and their parents, of course!). What a disaster. Like triathlons, you really can't fake the training for a half. Thirteen miles is a long way to run regardless, and quickly becomes even longer if you haven't trained for it. I completed an 11-miler three weeks out, and convinced myself it was enough. Well, first the left foot hurt, then the right foot (surgery foot), then the hamstring. I stopped to walk. I stopped to stretch. I told myself I had run a half marathon with a dislocated toe in the Syracuse Half Ironman triathlon a mere six months before. It didn't matter. It was a failure. I was so bummed out I didn't run at all the week after, which probably contributed to. . .
Paige's Butterfly Run success at the 5K! My wishful-thinking goal was 25 minutes; my realistic goal was 27 minutes. With my feet cooperating and a conscious effort to lengthen my stride to keep the hamstring loose, I crossed the line in 25:05. Happy! Successful! First in my age group. Woo-hoo!
Keuka Lake Sprint Triathlon. I clearly had no idea how my terrific run of the day before would affect my performance in my favorite triathlon of the year. But I didn't really care either. I was so happy to be getting ready for the first tri of the season that I just put my all into it. The swim went OK. I have resolved from now on to start at the front of the swim pack. Why lag behind when I pass half the field, and only get frustrated with the breast-strokers who kick to the side? The bike wasn't as fast as I felt. The run--ugh. I developed shin splints; I never develop shin splints. I turned on the pace with a mile to go, actually passing some folks as I neared the finish line. It wasn't my best effort, but it was an effort, and I was so glad to have finished. I can't wait to return to Keuka Lake next year.
Next up is a 7.7-mile cross country race at Green Lakes State Park on Sunday. Just trying to mix things up! Then serious training for the July 31 Delta Lake Olympic distance tri begins the following day. Yesterday, after Keuka, I went to beginnertriathlete.com to devise and print out a training plan for the next seven weeks. Other than the Boilermaker, I have no other races scheduled. This wasn't deliberate, but now with this newfound push, I'm glad I will have no distractions as I prepare for the 1500-meter swim, 25-mile bike and 10K run. Now, let's hope the rain holds off!